Approved Minutes of March 18, 2021 Virtual Commission Meeting
- Call to Order. The virtual meeting was called to order by Chair Wasserman at 1:04 p.m. The meeting was held online via Zoom and teleconference.
Chair Wasserman welcomed and administered the Oath of Office to Sean Nozzari, the new Alternate Commissioner from the Department of Transportation. Commissioner Nozzari stated he was happy to be joining BCDC as the Alternate Commissioner.
- Roll Call. Present were Chair Wasserman, Vice Chair Chappell, Commissioners Addiego, Ahn, Beach, Butt, Chan (represented by Alternate Gilmore), Eckerle, Eisen, Gioia, Gorin, Gunther, Lee (represented by Alternate Scharff), Lucchesi (represented by Alternate Pemberton), Moulton-Nozzari, Peters, Peskin, Pine, Ranchod, Randolph, Showalter, Spering (represented by Alternate Vasquez), BT&H (represented by Alternate Nozzari), ABAG (represented by Alternate Hillmer) and Wagenknecht. Senator Skinner, (represented by Alternate McCoy) was also present.
Chair Wasserman announced that a quorum was present.
Not present were Commissioners U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Ziegler), Department of Finance (Vacant)
- Public Comment Period. Chair Wasserman called for public comment on subjects that were not on the agenda.
Chair Wasserman gave the following instructions: Most of you have heard this too many times but there may be some new people so I will quickly share instructions on how we can participate in this meeting so that it runs as smoothly as possible. First, and this applies to everyone, make sure you have your microphones or phones muted to avoid background noise. For Commissioners, if you have a webcam please make sure it is on so that the public can see you. For members of the public, if you would like to speak either during our open public comment period or during a comment period on a specific agenda item you can do so in one of two ways. First, if you are attending on the Zoom platform please raise your hand In Zoom,
which is in the Participants list for most of us. If you are joining by telephone please press *6 on your keypad to unmute your phone to make a comment; we will call on individuals who have raised their hands in the order that they are raised. After you are called on you will be unmuted so that you can share your comments. Please remember you have a limit of three minutes to speak on any item.
I also ask that you keep your comments respectful and focused. We are here to listen to everyone who wishes to address us, but everyone has the responsibility to act in a civil manner. We will not tolerate hate speech, threats made directly or indirectly, and/or abusive language. We will mute anyone who fails to follow those guidelines or who exceeds the established time limits without permission.
Every now and then you will hear me refer to somebody as "host." Our BCDC staff are acting as hosts for the meeting behind the scenes to ensure that the technology moves this meeting forward smoothly and consistently.
BCDC has also established an email address to compile public comments for our meetings. Its address is email@example.com. We have today no public comments. I am always disappointed. If we do receive any emails during the meeting they will be posted on the website as they are received.
No members of the public addressed the Commission. Chair Wasserman moved to Approval of the Minutes.
- Approval of Minutes of the February 18, 2021 Meeting. Chair Wasserman asked for a motion and a second to adopt the minutes of February 18, 2021.MOTION: Commissioner Peskin moved approval of the Minutes, seconded by Commissioner Wagenknecht.
The motion carried by a voice vote with no abstentions or opposition.
- Report of the Chair. Chair Wasserman reported on the following: That brings us to my report, which is certainly one of the saddest that I have made in my almost nine years as being a Commissioner. As we all know, we have lost a giant among us. Our longtime Vice Chair and dear friend Anne Halsted finally succumbed to her long and valiant fight. It is always hard to deal with these things, both personally and privately as well as in public, but I know that some of you wish to make comments and we will allow everyone who wishes to do so sometime; I would ask that you make your comments as concise as possible so that when we are done with this very important, both memory and tribute, because it is as much in sorrow it is also a celebration of her wonderful life.
I would then turn to Commissioner Aaron Peskin to see what remarks you might like to make, sir.
Commissioner Peskin commented: Thank you Chair Wasserman. Colleagues, this last Tuesday the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously adjourned in the memory of my eight-door-away neighbor, Anne Halsted. Secretary Crowfoot, my first staff 20 years ago, will remember Ms. Halsted because she played a seminal role in my first campaign for the Board of Supervisors. Her work at BCDC and at SPUR and a constellation of organizations is well known.
What is probably not known to my colleagues on BCDC is how involved she was in her neighborhood of North Beach and Telegraph Hill, having served as president of the storied neighborhood organization, the Telegraph Hill Dwellers, long before my time. Was remarkably active in the refurbishing of Pioneer Park around Coit Tower, a project that everybody said would never get done but Anne saw it through. And of course, she will be missed by everybody from Save the Bay to BCDC to her colleagues on MTC, the Maritime Association at Fisherman's Wharf, the Port Commission, where she was appointed by Dianne Feinstein, and the list goes on and on. And her involvement was not in any of these matters cursory. When Anne got in she got in all the way in and there was no job too big or too small.
To her husband Wells, to her community in North Beach and Telegraph Hill, my profound condolences.
Chair Wasserman continued: Thank you, sir.
Secretary of Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot is amongst us and I would ask you, Wade, for your remarks about our colleague Anne Halsted.
Secretary Crowfoot addressed the Commission: Thanks so much, Chair. It was appropriate that Supervisor Peskin actually was just eulogizing Anne. I actually came to know and work with Anne in my time working for Aaron at the Board of Supervisors.
I actually got to know Anne in my first year in San Francisco when I came here to San Francisco as an early 20s migrant from the Midwest. I was temping at the time and interning at the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association or SPUR, and Anne at that point was I think, leader, or a leader on the board and I was, in essence, an intern at SPUR. And I still remember that first year vividly and the fact that Anne was really generous with her time.
Essentially mentoring me as somebody who wanted to do more on public policy and engage more in this incredible world called San Francisco and the Bay Area.
I had the benefit of working with Anne in so many different iterations in the last 25 years and I think I speak for so many when I just remark how kind and calm and poised and generous she always was. The issues that you navigate collectively at BCDC and in San Francisco and all manner of land use and development can sometimes be a full contact sport. People care about and protect that community ferociously and Anne was no different. She dedicated her life and her time to making San Francisco the place that it is and keeping the Bay Area the place that it is and she did so with such a collaborative, generous spirit that brought people together.
I have watched her over the years and just marveled at her staying power. That she hasn't been discouraged. Sometimes with how much time or energy or polarizing these conversations can be, she stayed at it. And that as Larry explained to me, even in the last couple of months, maintaining a really vigorous schedule helping to lead the Commission.
We will miss Anne dearly. She leaves a legacy not only at BCDC but across San Francisco and the Bay Area. The work we do from here will be a tribute to all that she has done. Thanks so much, Chair.
Chair Wasserman acknowledged the presentation: Thank you, sir. I would now recognize Anne’s Alternate, Jim Chappell.
Vice Chair Chappell spoke: I am, of course, only on this Commission because Anne asked me to be her alternate. The waterfront was really her greatest passion. Of all the many things she was involved in the waterfront is central to them all.
The first time I substituted for her on this Commission there was an important issue related to the San Francisco Waterfront on the agenda. When she asked me if I could cover for her in the meeting I said yes and how do you want me to vote on that issue? And she said, that's your decision. She said, I asked you to be my Alternate and I trust you to do whatever you think is right.
That's how she operated. She picked the right people, she was always there for support and then she gave them the freedom to succeed or fail. And that's what a real leader does and I will appreciate her forever. Thank you.
Chair Wasserman continued: Thank you, Jim.
I would now recognize Commissioner Eddie Ahn. Commissioner Ahn commented: Thanks, Chair Wasserman.
As Commissioner Halsted's replacement for MTC in particular, I do feel very strongly about her passing. I guess if there is something I wanted to add to what Commissioner Peskin and Secretary Crowfoot have added to this, which is that she also thought beyond just her own local community and that was always very apparent to me. Even in the politics, how it blends in with the policy, she understood, for instance, the need for environmental justice representation on MTC particularly, and also Asian American representation at that, which, given the current environment that we are in right now seems prophetic that we do need voices that speak beyond what is currently represented.
So for her, I will always appreciate her strength of character, her moral clarity on a number of issues beyond just what she viewed as her community and I've learned a lot from her. To me she echoes a lot of another mentor of mine from nonprofit work, which is Dr.
Espanola Jackson of Bayview Hunters Point. In some ways on the surface although they could not be further apart for the communities that they represent, but in all the important ways they are very similar. I will be forever grateful for the brief amount of time that I spent with her.
Chair Wasserman recognized Commissioner McGrath: Thank you. I would now recognize Commissioner Jim McGrath.
Commissioner McGrath spoke: Thank you, Chair Wasserman. Thank you, fellow Commissioners, even though I'm only an Alternate now; and thank you, Aaron, for your kind words. I think you captured the essence of Anne. She played the long game. You know, working with her on committees, working with her at detail. She was always looking not for how you deal with the problem today but how you make it real.
I want to speak not just for myself but for all of my friends who are involved in seeking access to the waterfront; and Anne's role is, as some have said, Queen of the San Francisco Waterfront. It wasn't just the downtown, it wasn't just the corridor along the Marina, it was the Southern Waterfront where those interested in the water trail and the blue-greenway found support with Anne.
As Wade Crowfoot said, she was distinguished by her kindness. She was supportive of everyone. She could be in the middle of a controversial issue and support everyone on that issue, a very rare talent, one that I would love to aspire to. She was a gentle woman. She was a mentor to all that saw her and she was always supportive of access to the waterfront. We'll miss her. Thank you.
Chair Wasserman noted: Thank you.
Commissioner Gorin had her hand up. After Commissioner Gorin if others wish to speak please raise your virtual hand.
Commissioner Gorin commented: Thank you all. I was greatly saddened to read about her passing. Thank you for your words talking about her incredible stature, experience and leadership in San Francisco but I want to talk about the quiet Anne. Anne and Wells had an idyllic existence in the hills of Glen Ellen and I was so fortunate to be a guest of Anne and Wells over a number of occasions. But she led a very quiet life and brought people around her, always the creative, intellectual, always intellectually curious, a common thread of passion for land use planning, absolutely.
But we have two other Commissioners with us today, Commissioners Addiego and Stephanie Moulton-Peters also sharing in the part-time residence in Sonoma Valley. All four of us really understood the impact of the fires from 2017 and over the last couple of years, and the fires came very close to the house of Anne and Wells. And every time she would travel to and from San Francisco to her beautiful abode she would have to drive through the devastation of Glen Ellen. And recognizing how fragile those beautiful hills and valleys are, always understanding the impact of climate change on a very personal and significant level for a community. I'll remember her fondly.
She hosted a luncheon with John Stewart. We toured the Sonoma Developmental Center and he lent us his great ideas on transformation of that campus. And she also supported my campaign for reelection, hosting a fundraiser just a month before COVID, a month or two before COVID. So it was with great admiration and sadness that I learned of her passing. Thank you for sharing your stories.
Chair Wasserman called on Commissioner Addiego: Thank you.
Commissioner Addiego addressed fellow Commissioners and attendees: Thank you, Chairman.
As a young man I remember San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen writing about the beautiful and classy women of San Francisco; and if he were alive today he would be writing about Anne Halsted. The way that she would conduct herself both publicly and privately, her refined manner of speaking, she was really the essence of professionalism in all walks of life, but especially government, I think she's someone we can all be grateful to have known.
The last time she joined us was on one of these Zoom meetings with her home in Glen Ellen and she looked very relaxed. I have only bumped into her a couple of times at the local village market but she was as happy to be in Glen Ellen on those occasions, as was I, so it was something small we shared together and I will miss her greatly.
Chair Wasserman asked: Peggy, other hands?
Ms. Atwell replied: There's no other Commissioner hands. There is a public attendee, I am not sure if that person wants to speak towards Anne or not.
Chair Wasserman stated: We would welcome comments from the public.
Arthur Feinstein was recognized: Hi, Commissioners, Chair Zack. Arthur Feinstein with the Sierra Club and previously Golden Gate Audubon. Been coming to BCDC for a long time and have known Anne for a long time so I thought it would be good for you to hear from somebody who has been on the other side of the table as an advocate rather than a Commissioner.
She was very graceful and I am grateful that she was on the Commission. She made testimony easier. She talked to you after. This is the first I heard that she had died so I am very sorry to hear it. She was a great asset to the Commission and for those of us who, again, advocated BCDC, we will miss her. Thank you.
Chair Wasserman acknowledged: Thank you. Any others, Peggy?
Ms. Atwell answered: No other hands raised, Chair.
Chair Wasserman: I am going to make just a few remarks. We have all heard the testimony and stories about her broad, deep and long involvement in San Francisco and in regional affairs. I first met her really almost nine years ago when I became Chair of the Commission. As everybody has said, she was always fully supportive, gracious, a delight to be with and to be around.
She also, I think, embodied what is becoming sadly rarer and rarer in our society, a true public servant. Not coming forward for personal gain or ambition. She certainly had her passions, as Supervisor Peskin and others have noted. But she was there because she cared about the public good and she gave unselfishly of her time and her energy and her intellect.
She benefited this organization and the many organizations that she participated in and the many people who received the benefits of these organizations’ work, and she did it simply because she cared to do good in this world.
She also, and this has been mentioned but I think it's important to emphasize, represented a civility and a care in public comment that is all too rare today. And she continues, I think, she was and continues and will continue to be an inspiration for us.
I am going to read a very short poem that I think is apt as we think about her and remember her.
“At the rising of the sun and at its going down, we remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them. At the opening of the buds and the rebirth of spring, we remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer, we remember them. At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember them. When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember them. When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember them.
When we have joy we crave to share, we remember them.
When we have decisions that are difficult to make, we remember them. When we have achievements that are based on hers, we remember her. As long as we live, she too will live, for she is a part of us.”
I will ask or telegraph now that when we adjourn at the end of this meeting, Commissioner Chappell move, and Commissioner Peskin second, that we adjourn in her memory, which will stay with us and inspire us for a very long time. I thank you all.
I would now ask Commissioner Scharff to provide a brief summary of the Enforcement Committee meeting which was held on March 11th.
Commissioner Scharff addressed the Commission: Thank you, Chair Wasserman.
At the Enforcement Committee meeting on March 11th we heard an update on the situation at Union Point Park. You will probably remember that in October the Commission approved issuing an Order that requires the city of Oakland to clear the Park and begin restoration efforts so that it can be available for the local communities, as was originally intended. At the October Commission meeting we heard from residents of the surrounding areas and the harbormaster of the Oakland marinas about the unsafe conditions in the Park and the vandalism that was occurring.
The deadline for clearing the Park was originally February 12, 2021. At the request of the city of Oakland the Executive Director extended that deadline by one month to March 12th to allow the City to engage in negotiations with the remaining residents about moving to an alternative location.
According to the city of Oakland, the Park has now been cleared in accordance with the Order that this Commission approved and that the deadline for the City to provide a restoration plan for the Park is September 1, 2021 and the deadline to complete actions to restore the Park is April 1, 2022. The City is required to provide updates on their progress towards meeting these deadlines.
Priscilla will provide some additional information on this as part of her Enforcement report. I just did want to say that I wanted to thank the city of Oakland for getting this done and we appreciate their efforts. Thank you.
Chair Wasserman continued: Thank you.
Next BCDC Meeting. Our next Commission meeting will be on April 1st. At that meeting we may:
Hold a possible public hearing and vote on a proposed restoration project on Bradmoor Island in the Suisun Marsh; and,
Hold a briefing on proposed amendments to our CEQA regulations.
- Ex Parte Communications. Commissioners, this is the time when if any Commissioner has an ex parte communication to communicate; you may do so. This does not substitute for doing it in writing. If you feel you need to disclose an ex parte communication you may do so now. (No Commissioners reported an ex parte communication)
Executive Director Larry Goldzband will now present the Executive Director’s Report.
- Report of the Executive Director. Executive Director Goldzband reported: Thank you, Chair Wasserman.
On behalf of all BCDC staff members, present and past, who had the privilege of working with Anne Halsted, we want to associate ourselves with the tributes that we have heard this afternoon. Anne believed that government agencies work best when their processes are transparent and she ensured that BCDC’s are. While she was not timid, she was kind. She jumped wholeheartedly into our workshops to listen to, to talk with and to work beside Commissioners, advocates and other members of the public.
You can learn a lot sitting next to Anne twice each month for a few hours, as I was fortunate to do. Perhaps most important, however, she was as gracious as the summer days are long. In light of yesterday’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration, I remind you of the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats’ who said: "Think where man's glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends." We are poorer for her absence, may she always be a blessed memory for us all.
- Budget and Staffing. You’ll remember that last month I told you of my appearance before the Assembly Budget Subcommittee before which I defended the Governor’s proposal to reauthorize our use of the Bay Fill Cleanup and Abatement Fund and the need to provide funding for BCDC enforcement staff. As I prepared to appear before the Senate Budget Subcommittee two weeks later, we were told that the Subcommittee placed that proposal on its vote-only list, its version of a consent calendar and it was approved as requested by the Newsom Administration.
We will continue to be in touch with Assemblymember Mullin’s staff regarding how the Assembly will dispose of the Governor’s proposal and we will keep you updated.
We have had an internal BCDC staff shuffle and we propose to add three new staff members to our Shoreline Development Permitting team this month, essentially replacing the entire team.
First, Katharine Pan, who has been spearheading the Seaport Plan Update on our Planning team, will be moving to the Shoreline Development Permitting team as a principal permit analyst to replace Rebecca Coates-Maldoon. Second, we propose to hire Tony Daysog to replace Yuri Jewett; Yuri’s been holding down the fort in the Bay Shoreline Development Permitting unit but will move to our Long Range Planning Unit. Third, we propose to hire Shruti Sinha to round out the changes. In this shuffle, we are thrilled that we are keeping Katharine and Yuri in the BCDC fold and gaining a great deal of cross-fertilization in the process.
Regarding the two new arrivals, Tony Daysog earned his undergraduate degree in History and his master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning from U.C. Berkeley. This Golden Bear has years of experience in planning, policy analysis, project management and public engagement working as an economic development consultant. He also has worked as a Housing Policy Analyst for the Santa Clara County Housing Authority and he is an Alameda City Councilmember.
Shruti earned her undergraduate degree from U.C. Santa Barbara and then the Gaucho earned her law degree from Whittier Law School where she concentrated in environmental law. Shruti was a law clerk for San Francisco Baykeeper, the Orange County District Attorney’s Environmental Protection Unit and the Legal Aid Law Foundation of Los Angeles. She also worked as a volunteer for the South Asian Helpline and Referral Agency in Los Angeles before moving to the Bay Area. Unless we hear otherwise we expect these two new staff members to start later this month.
- Policy Issues. With regard to policy some very good news to report. Thanks to our enforcement and legal teams and the Office of the Attorney General, BCDC earned a tremendous victory in the California Court of Appeals earlier this month and I would like Marc Zeppetello to fill you in.
Chief Counsel Zeppetello: Thanks, Larry. Good afternoon, Commissioners. As many of you will remember, in November of 2016 the Commission issued a Cease and Desist and Civil Penalty Order against John Sweeney and the Point Buckler Club LLC for unauthorized activities at an island, the Point Buckler Island in Suisun Marsh. At about the same time the Regional Water Quality Control Board also issued a Cleanup and Abatement Order and a subsequent Civil Penalty Order. The respondents on those orders filed a lawsuit in Solano County Superior Court challenging both orders and the superior court judge agreed with the respondents and invalidated both agencies’ orders.
The state appealed and on February 18th, just following the last Commission meeting, we got the Court of Appeal decisions that reversed both Solano County Court decisions in their entirety.
As to the BCDC order, the Court found that a permit was required under the Suisun Marsh Preservation Act and the McAteer-Petris Act for the unauthorized work. That no statutory exemptions to the permit requirement applied, that substantial evidence supported the penalty imposed by the Commission, that there was no evidence of vindictive prosecution, and that the respondents were accorded a fair hearing in accordance with the Commission's enforcement regulations.
Following those decisions Mr. Sweeney's counsel filed petitions for rehearing in both cases with the Court of Appeal raising numerous issues in our action; in the BCDC action specifically arguing about the statutory exemptions to the permit requirement. Just earlier today, the Court of Appeal issued orders denying the petitions for rehearing.
As an interesting postscript, the original Court of Appeal decision in the BCDC action was not certified for publication, although the Regional Board decision had been certified for publication, and in today's order the Court on its own ordered the BCDC opinion published at the same time it denied the petition for rehearing.
So this is all great news but the final postscript is that it probably is not quite over. The counsel for Mr. Sweeney was quoted in a press article suggesting it is likely they will now petition for review by the California Supreme Court, so we will keep you posted. Thank you.
Chair Wasserman continued: Thank you. And thank you all for the good work on that.
Executive Director Goldzband stated: Now I would like Steve Goldbeck to give you a very short analysis of a major piece of legislation in Sacramento affecting how regions will become resilient to climate change.
Chief Deputy Director Goldbeck commented: Assemblymember Mullin has introduced AB 897, a bill that provides for regional climate adaptation networks to be established across the state to plan for resiliency.
The boundaries of the regions will be based on the state's fourth climate assessment scheme, which would have its boundaries as the nine Bay Area counties for our regional climate network. And while it specifies the kind of entities that may be members, it does not specify a lead agency. It also provides that the Governor's Office of Planning and Research will provide guidelines on implementation of these networks.
It is our understanding that MTC has joined with several other MPOs in advocating that the MPOs be designated as the lead for the networks. Staff does not think that the bill should be amended to specify which entity would be the lead. Different lead agencies will likely be appropriate for different parts of the state. For the Bay Area, Bay Adapt is a collaborative approach involving the various agencies and we do not think that Sacramento should specify a single lead agency.
We are following the bill. We did not agendize the bill for discussion today but we will bring it to you likely in April. So that is my report.
Executive Director Goldzband acknowledged: Thanks Steve. Three short pieces before we move on.
First of all, BCDC has opened a 30-day, public-comment period on the Draft Bay Plan Climate Change Policy Guidance ahead of the Commission’s public hearing in a month. You will remember that you were briefed on the previous draft last June; we have reviewed it with an external advisory committee that included Commissioner Eckerle and it has gone through additional rounds of internal review. The draft is now available for public comment.
We provided the document to you last Friday. I encourage you to review it and please consider passing the announcement along to any interested parties in your networks.
Next week, the Seaport Plan Advisory Committee – commonly known as the SPAC – will meet to recommend a preferred set of port priority use designations and related policy direction. Our staff will use those recommendations to prepare a draft San Francisco Bay Area Seaport Plan update. To aid in the discussion, the SPAC will receive a presentation on the findings of the Alternatives Analysis of the proposed designation changes and related policy issues. We are grateful to Commissioner Gunther’s Alternate, the always reliable Jim McGrath, for stepping up to chair the meeting in light of Anne Halsted’s passing.
Finally, Chair Wasserman, I have in my hand the list of staff, Commissioners, Alternates and Advisory Board members who have not completed their Form 700 Financial Disclosures. Twenty-two Commissioners and Alternates fall into that group. These Form 700s are due in exactly two weeks, on April 1st. We strongly encourage you to get them in early and we look forward to your active participation.
That completes my Report, Chair Wasserman.
Chair Wasserman asked: Are there any questions for the Executive Director?
Commissioner Gunther was recognized: Thank you. I just wanted to request that when the staff comes back with this broader discussion of Mullin’s bill – so there is quite a history of the development of regional, adaptation thinking that I have personally been involved in. I think it definitely supports the position that Steve described.
And I want to make sure that the Commission benefits from all that information. I think you probably have it in hand but if you don’t please reach out to me.
Executive Director Goldzband stated: Consider yourself reached out to. Commissioner Gunther replied: I will, definitely.
Mr. Goldbeck added: Thank you for the offer.
Chair Wasserman asked: Any other questions or offers? (No comments were voiced)
- Budget and Staffing. You’ll remember that last month I told you of my appearance before the Assembly Budget Subcommittee before which I defended the Governor’s proposal to reauthorize our use of the Bay Fill Cleanup and Abatement Fund and the need to provide funding for BCDC enforcement staff. As I prepared to appear before the Senate Budget Subcommittee two weeks later, we were told that the Subcommittee placed that proposal on its vote-only list, its version of a consent calendar and it was approved as requested by the Newsom Administration.
Consideration of Administrative Matters. Chair Wasserman stated there were no listings on Administrative Matters.
Public Hearing on Proposed Amendments to the Commission’s Regulations. Chair Wasserman announced: Item 8 is a public hearing on proposed amendments to the Commission’s regulations. Chief Counsel Marc Zeppetello will introduce the item.
Chief Counsel Zeppetello addressed the Commission: Thank you, Chair Wasserman.
On December 17th, the Commission was briefed and held a public hearing on proposed changes to the regulations on permitting, planning, and administrative matters, and at that time, the Commission authorized staff to move forward with the rulemaking process.
On January 27th, we issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that started a public review and comment period that runs through today. We also posted the proposed amendments, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and the Initial Statement of Reasons on the website. As of today, we have not received any written comments although, of course, we may have comments at the public hearing.
The purpose of this agenda item today is to have a public hearing and any further comments or suggestions from the Commission. There is no vote or no action today. Following the hearing today, we will prepare a response to comments and bring the matter back to the Commission for a vote either at the end of April or early May.
I will not go through the amendments one by one, as I did in December, but I will highlight the changes that we made in response to Commissioner comments and some changes made based on further discussion and consideration by staff.
The first topic is on the issues of ex parte communications. Several Commissioners raised questions and comments on that issue, and we went back and looked at the governing statutes in the Government Code and the regulations as a whole, and we have suggested a number of further amendments.
Section 10281 is the definition of an ex parte communication, and previously we did not propose any changes to this section. But in response to the discussion in December, we propose to add a sentence at the end of subsection (a) that clarifies that an ex parte communication includes any communication, whether or not the Commissioner receiving the communication responds to it. This change is in part a response to comments made by Commissioner Butt and perhaps others that Commissioners should not engage in, or should just not have, ex parte communications.
It is clear in looking at the Government Code provisions that an ex parte communication happens whether or not a public official responds to a communication from an interested party. So, if you get a letter or an email making comments on a pending adjudicatory matter, or if you receive a phone call, even if you don't respond and say I can't talk to you, there has been an ex parte communication. We wanted to clarify that.
Subsection (b) addresses the issue of the tension between the Commission making adjudicatory decisions as a public body, where the public has a right to comment, and the prohibition on ex parte communications. If the communication is a public comment and is included in the record, then it would not be an ex parte communication, provided a Commissioner doesn't respond.
Subsection (c) basically implements that provision regarding public comments. Many times, it is the Executive Director that receives the comment letters and provides them to the Commission, either by posting on the website or in the mailing; in those situations, they are already included in the record and there is no need to report them as an ex parte communication. Or, if you receive an ex parte communication that is a letter, a comment letter, or an email directed to you and it is clear that it is only to you, if you forward it to the Executive Director and it is then posted, again it is part of the record and there is no further reporting obligation.
In subsection 10286, we have made a minor change here. This is the regulation that deals with providing notice and what happens if the disclosure of an ex parte communication does not happen until the Commission meeting. If the disclosure happens prior to the Commission meeting, then the Executive Director will provide notice. But if the disclosure happens at the meeting, this previously had the Executive Director providing notice at the meeting. We revised this to clarify that disclosure of an ex parte communication is still required in writing under the regulations and that it would be the Commissioner that provides notice at the meeting, letting the public know that the Commissioner has disclosed the communication.
The next topic, this was a change that was made because of internal discussions following the December meeting involving BCDC’s Engineer, the Regulatory Director, and myself. It was suggested that 11 members for the ECRB are too many, that there have never been 11 ECRB members, at least in the memory of current staff, so it was proposed to reduce the number to nine.
In the original proposal we added a coastal engineer as one of the areas of expertise. One refinement we now propose is to change geologist to an engineering geologist, as a more specialized and specific area of expertise related to the functions of the ECRB, and we also propose to eliminate an architect.
These suggestions were motivated in part by comments made by the prior geologist and prior architect ECRB members who resigned last year and who felt that the work of the ECRB was not particularly focused on their areas of expertise. The architect did not feel that she was contributing to the ECRB and commented that an architect is more appropriate on the DRB than for the work of the ECRB.
The other substantive change here is to reduce the number of alternates in subsection (d) from seven to four, which seems to staff and to the BCDC engineer to be sufficient, and then to make conforming changes; for example, reducing the quorum number from six to five if the overall membership is reduced to nine.
The final topic or the final regulation where staff has developed some further revisions since the last meeting is in section 10601, which is minor repairs or improvements. These are categories of activities that the Executive Director can authorize by an administrative permit.
In subsection (a)(9), which is activities in the Bay, we had proposed a new category of minor fill for habitat restoration, with a square footage limitation of 10,000 square feet, which tracks another provision of this regulation which allows 10,000 square feet for protective works, for riprap or levee work to protect the shoreline. On further reconsideration and after reviewing the administrative permits of other agencies, particularly the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ nationwide permit program, staff felt that it would be appropriate to increase the square footage limit from 10,000 to 20,000 square feet in the Bay, while also adding the restrictions of including the minimum amount of fill necessary, which is one of the fill tests under section 66605 in any case, and also that the restoration activities would not result in significant adverse habitat-conversion impacts.
And the final change proposed by staff is in subsection (c)(3), where the original proposal for habitat restoration activities, or enhancement activities, in salt ponds or managed wetlands, was covering less than 10,000 square feet, again tracking the existing regulation which allows for 10,000 square feet. Here, staff did an evaluation of restoration projects in the EcoAtlas database and looked at projects that have been approved by BCDC and other agencies and felt that it would be appropriate to increase the area limit from 10,000 square feet to 50 acres in salt ponds and managed wetlands, which may seem like a large increase, but if you consider it in the context of these are activities that are not happening in the Bay itself but behind levees, it seems to staff that this would be appropriate.
I will add that Anniken Lydon and Brad McCrea raised this issue last week with the BRRIT and the Policy Management Committee of the BRRIT, and the feedback they got from those that responded was positive and supportive, that this would be a good change and consistent with the thinking of other agencies.
Those are the changes that staff has proposed. The last topic that I will discuss in my presentation, before you open the public hearing, is, as discussed when I went through the enforcement regulations a meeting or two ago, under the Administrative Procedure Act the Commission is required to consider alternatives, and so the staff report goes through several alternatives.
One alternative, of course, being the no project alternative under which the Commission would not adopt any of the proposed amendments, which of course we do not recommend.
The second category of alternative discussed in the staff report is that you adopt most of the amendments but might reject some of them. I had a hard time identifying something in this category, but two are discussed the staff report that I will mention here.
One of the issues we talked about is changing the meeting minutes requirements. Currently, the court reporter prepares almost verbatim minutes that, as you are all aware, sometimes are 30 or 40 pages. Many other agencies take a more abbreviated approach where they track the actions taken and who speaks, but do not prepare verbatim, lengthy minutes. That is the proposal and what staff recommends, but one alternative would be to keep the status quo on that.
A second possible alternative to not adopt a proposed change, and this is the regulation on minor fills for shoreline appearance with respect to existing residential structures, is in subsection (e). As I mentioned last time, we propose to change: “will cover not less of the Bay surface than an existing structure” to “will cover no more of the Bay surface.” The change is intended to allow residential owners to rebuild or rehabilitate structures and have the same square footage, rather than staff having to say, well no, you have got to make it one square foot smaller. So, it is a small wording change and in the big picture it may not be a huge issue, but with respect to this category of projects it is a policy change to allow owners to keep their development over the Bay at the same size rather than reduce it. So, that is another possible alternative that you might consider, to leave that regulation alone.
The third and final category of alternatives is that you might modify some of the proposals that were presented to you in December. The changes that I just went through on the ECRB membership and the changes to section 10601 for minor fill for habitat restoration projects fall in that category.
The other potential alternative in this category that I will highlight, this is regulation 10123, which talks about areas excluded from the Commission's jurisdiction and deals with the issue of, if an area because of the natural destruction of a levee or a manmade works comes within the Commission jurisdiction, the property owner is allowed a year to fix the problem without having the Commission assume jurisdiction over the area that becomes flooded or subject to tidal action. The primary change in this regulation is to put the burden on the property owner to notify the Commission rather than the Commission having to police the Bay and notify each property owner. Given the one-year timeframe to fix the problem, it is proposed to allow the property owner a half-year or 180 days to provide notice. One possible change here would be to give the property owner 270 days or give them a full year to come forward and report that there is a problem and that they have a plan and a schedule to address the problem.
That completes my presentation. I would be happy to answer any questions either now or after the public hearing. Thank you very much.
Chair Wasserman stated: I think before we start any questions, I am going to open the public hearing and ask for any public comment. Peggy, I think we do not have any.
Ms. Atwell agreed: No, no hands raised.
Chair Wasserman asked: Any questions from Commissioners? Commissioner Gioia.
Commissioner Gioia had a question: Just a question on the definition of ex parte. If we get an email individually, or all the Board Members get an email, and we don't respond, it is considered an ex parte communication unless we forward the email to BCDC for inclusion in the public record; is that correct?
Mr. Zeppetello answered: Yes, that's correct, Commissioner. Unless it is a blast email that went to everyone and the Executive Director has it. In that case you don’t have to forward it.
Commissioner Gioia continued: Right. No, I understand, if it goes to staff and to the Commission. But if it only goes, let's say to all the Commission without the staff, the practice should be, and maybe everybody would, to forward it to the staff and that gets included that in the record.
Mr. Zeppetello noted: Correct. And then no reporting obligation, you are done.
Commissioner Gioia asked: So, what about in our age of social media? Someone makes a social media post on — let's say on our Facebook page, it's a public post. Is that considered ex parte if we don't respond, since the public has seen it? Or do we need to copy and paste that and send that to the staff?
Mr. Zeppetello stated: Well, that's a new one.
Commissioner Gioia noted: Get ready for more of this because as a county supervisor I get comments all the time on issues on my Facebook site; not necessarily on BCDC issues. Let's say there is a post, a comment on a Facebook site.
Mr. Zeppetello replied: I'm looking at the definition and it is a communication between an outside party and a member of the Commission. So, the question to consider is, is that a communication? A post is a communication, I suppose, to the world, but it is not a direct one- on-one communication in the classic sense of the term.
Commissioner Gioia clarified: I think we need to be moving forward in this new age of technology and social media to think about those types of communications generally and how those, what category those fall in. I think we are going to be faced with this issue more and more.
Clearly, if someone sent me a private Facebook message, which I don't usually want to have for work, but if someone does that, presumably that is a communication, I get that if it is a private Facebook message. But if it is a public post, I think you need to think about that and define it, so it is clear because this is going to become more common.
Mr. Zeppetello acknowledged: No, that is a good point and I think that is something that certainly I could talk to both the Resources Agency and the Attorney General's Office as to whether other agencies have addressed this issue. I think that for the short term perhaps we could do this as guidance, or we could follow up on it. I don't know that it needs to be addressed in the regulations, but you are raising a good point.
Commissioner Gioia emphasized his concerns: I just want to be conscious because look, it does — I mean, I look at what the responsibilities and obligations are of those of us who have extensive social media and do I have to review every comment and determine whether it is an ex parte communication and send it in, because if it is a high visibility project, we may get things like that.
You will at least figure out what an answer is on this to provide some guidance and think about that? I hope we don't have to report all public comments on a Facebook page.
Chair Wasserman commented: I will add, I think it is an important point. I thank Commissioner Gioia for raising it. I think staff does need to look at it. I would strongly urge us to reach a conclusion. If something is posted in a public place, and distinguishing as Commissioner Gioia said, from somebody sending a private Facebook communication, and a Commissioner does not respond to it, that's out there in the public, it's not our obligation to report it. But I would ask staff to look at that. I think anything that gets us to start policing social media is moving us in the wrong direction.
Commissioner Gioia posed a hypothetical: So similarly, if somebody comes to, let's say those of us that are on other boards, to a public meeting and says, I want to make a comment to you about this BCDC issue, and they make it at a Board of Supervisors meeting, that similarly would not be ex parte because it is made in public. It is not in the public record. The issue is these things are not in the public record for others to review on the BCDC matter. They are out there in the public but not in the public record for this matter. I don't know what that means to differentiate but I think it is a point to think about.
Executive Director Goldzband stated: Duly noted.
Chair Wasserman continued: Thank you. Any other comments from Commissioners? Ms. Atwell informed Chair Wasserman: Chair Wasserman, you have four Commissioners. We'll start with Commissioner Showalter, and then move to Commissioner Butt.
Commissioner Showalter commented: I wanted to make some comments on the Engineering Criteria Review Board. In general, I think the changes that have been suggested are excellent, but I am a little concerned about the requirement of an engineering geologist. If we mean a registered engineering geologist, there are not that many of them and I can see how that could make recruiting difficult. I wondered what our experience with that has been. Do we have engineering geologists that are serving currently? Has it been hard to find them?
Regulatory Director McCrea fielded the question: Thanks, Commissioner Showalter, for the question. As Marc pointed out, it was the advice of our staff engineer as well as some of the other board members that the discipline of geologist wasn't serving the needs of the ECRB as much as an engineering geologist. I admit that we haven't gone and seen what the pool of candidates might be for an engineering geologist — so you raise a point that I haven't had a conversation about with Rafael Montes our staff engineer.
I can go back and do that and see if there are limitations with regards to the candidate list. But with the advice coming from those who know, our advice is for an engineering geologist who deals with the criteria needed to build in the soils that are being analyzed.
Commissioner Showalter responded: Yes, that is a good idea. Because when I read this initially, I would assume this means a registered engineering geologist; that narrows the field considerably. There are quite a few engineering geologist consultants who aren't registered who do that work and they might be perfectly qualified to do this. There could also be geologists who don't have that professional registration that are in that and there could also be geotechnical engineers.
I was thinking it might be good to have “or” in there. But engineering geologist is the most appropriate based on what I understand too. I am just a little concerned about whether we specify that they are registered or not; because if we don't specify that they are not registered it is implied that they are.
Mr. McCrea acknowledged: Understood. Thanks for the comment.
Commissioner Butt commented: I had a couple of comments on my favorite topic, ex parte communication. I am glad to see the clarifications. Just so I fully understand, I think Commissioner Gioia brought this up. When I used to get an email that was clearly for an included project, I thought that if I deleted it without reading it that I had a safe harbor. So, now I am hearing that that's not a safe harbor. But if I send it, if I forward it to the Executive Director with or without reading it, the message is safe harbor; is that correct?
Mr. Zeppetello stated: Correct.
Commissioner Butt continued: Okay, that's great.
The other one, I am looking at the revisions to section 10286, Notification of Parties, and Interested Persons. It has the wording in it, it talks about a Commissioner has received an impermissible, ex parte communication. That continues to be confusing to me about ex parte communications.
Apparently, an ex parte communication is not impermissible, it is discouraged or something like that. Based on previous discussions we have, a Commissioner can, in fact, initiate or participate in an ex parte communication, he or she just has to disclose it. So, what I gather from that is that ex parte communications aren't impermissible at all, they are entirely permissible. They may be discouraged, but they're not impermissible. I am hoping at some point maybe you can resolve that in writing or am I missing the point?
Mr. Zeppetello replied: Let me clarify. I think that maybe you are referring to 10283 which says...
Commissioner Butt interjected: No, 10286.
Mr. Zeppetello acknowledged: Well, in 10283, which I did not put in the staff report but was in the package, it says, except as provided in 10284, ex parte communications are prohibited. So, it is flatly prohibited. But 10284, an existing regulation, lists several ex parte communications that are permissible as authorized in the Government Code. But other than those permissible types, such as if you contact staff with a question or if it is a procedural question, it is in the Government Code and in our regulations that it is prohibited. You should not be doing it and then saying, well, I can disclose it, so I can do it all I want.
The other thing I would comment on, Commissioner, is that one of the things to keep in mind on these regulations is they partly provide direction to the Commission, but they are also direction to the public. We have had situations, both in permitting matters and in enforcement matters, where a responsible party decides to hire a lobbyist to blast email all Commissioners and want to set up a meeting with you. I have been able to, at least on one occasion, call them up and say, ex parte communications are prohibited, knock it off. And they say, Oh, I did not know that; I did not understand. They are intended to be prohibited and the disclosure obligation is what you need to do as a consequence, if you engage in them. But except as authorized in the regulation that specifies the types that are permissible, they are intended to be prohibited.
Commissioner Butt added: The ones that are listed that are that are permissible, I am not talking about those. It is kind of like the Brown Act. The Brown Act prohibits a bunch of things but there is a way of curing it. Maybe the way to deal with this is, I mean, something is either prohibited or it is not. Clearly, these communications are not prohibited because there is a way to cure it and the way to cure it is report it. I am hoping that someday, at some point, you will address that and clarify it. That prohibited doesn't really mean prohibited, it means it is prohibited unless you take steps to cure it, and we now understand what the steps are to cure it. I think the way this is treated is still very confusing.
Commissioner Scharff commented: I was thinking of the same two things that Commissioner Butt was thinking of and that Commissioner Gioia was, so I will address both of them, and I had a third minor thing on this.
The first was Commissioner Gioia. It seems to me that it is absolutely a communication that's an ex parte communication, especially if it is on your private Facebook page, not open to the public, because it is trying to influence you and you need to disclose that.
I do think we should put that in the regulation so it is clear for Commissioners and provides guidance because a lot of people would not think about that. If it is a public Facebook page, it is a little hard to imagine since the purpose of this is to give notice to the other parties involved in this, that it would in fact, not be.
I am not sure why that is any different than the concept that if someone sends me an email and I inadvertently never see that email and delete it, and it's a private email, I am still in trouble if I don't forward that to the Executive Director or make some other appropriate disclosure. So, I don't see why it's any different than having to look at your Facebook comments and say, I got a comment on this, I need to then disclose it into the public record. We seem hard pressed to make that argument.
Marc, if you feel that we don't need to do that I think that would be great, but then we should put that in the regulation that you don't need to do it. The reason I am saying that is I am going back to the Coastal Commission issues. I don't recall the details, but I thought there was a whole thing about how much trouble the Coastal Commissioners got into with not handling ex parte communications correctly, not reporting them, and there were all these sanctions that occurred. I didn't follow it that closely, but I do remember something on it. I don't know if you want to comment on that, Marc, or give us some guidance on that. I am just worried people will get themselves in trouble if we don't have clear guidance.
Mr. Zeppetello replied: I don't have any further comments now. I need to think about it and consult with other counsel and with the Attorney General’s Office about how to try to address this.
Commissioner Peskin commented: Mr. Chairman, I was on the Coastal Commission in those days and happy to talk to staff or the entire Commission. I know that sad saga well, too well, although I was not implicated in it.
Commissioner Scharff replied: Good for you, Aaron, good for you. The second thing is really Commissioner Butt’s point, on which I have also been confused and I wanted some guidance on this, is that the way I understood it was that it is very highly discouraged, that we should not engage in ex parte communications. But if someone sends us a message, and we don't respond, it is still an ex parte communication and therefore we have engaged in ex parte communication. But even if we do respond, and we disclose it, there is no sanction for doing so. Or in fact, even if we in an adjudicatory matter reach out and contact one of the parties, is there any sanction for doing that?
Mr. Zeppetello noted: Yes. The sanction is that a member of the public can argue that you should recuse yourself. That is the sanction. The whole purpose of giving notice and doing these disclosures is the public has a right to question your objectivity. that's the sanction. That is what is in the regulations.
Commissioner Scharff agreed: Correct. When you were talking about with Commissioner Butt on that, I think that is the sanction — that is why it is prohibited, not discouraged, right? That is the whole point of that. And so, if you don't engage and you just forward it and it becomes part of the public record, then there is no issue there and then it is just purely an issue of disclosure; whereas if you engage you may be forced to recuse yourself.
That has not necessarily been clear I think in the way this has been explained. So, that's an important framework of this, of why it is prohibited, and it should maybe lay it out there that that is the sanction that could occur if you engage as a Commissioner in that. So, Commissioners can look at that and understand that's what could happen.
Then the third thing I wanted to bring up briefly was, at every meeting Zack says, if you have an ex parte communication you can disclose it now, but you still have to put it in writing. I have always wondered why we do that. Is it purely because it must be disclosed if it is relating to the items on that Commission's agenda? Because this clearly says you need to communicate it and disclose it before the Commission agenda. If you disclose it after the Commission agenda, you might have to reopen the discussion. Is that the reason for that, Marc?
Mr. Zeppetello explained: With all respect, I don't believe we are complying with the regulations the way we are doing it these days.
Chair Wasserman chimed in: I want to suggest; this is clearly a very important topic. But I am a little concerned that as a number of us make comments, and trust me I am very tempted to make a comment and have been biting my tongue, that we are asserting things that may or may not be correct.
There may be other specific issues that Commissioners want to raise, I certainly don't want to cut that off, but I would ask Marc to take this set of comments, to go back and think about it, and come back to us really with two pieces. And there may be more than two pieces. One is, some of the social media comment issues, which have not been talked about a lot and I think there's almost no cases on, or very few.
And then the second is, coming back to the basic rules. Because I think there is some understandable misunderstanding about those as well, both in terms of what we should be doing, and if we are not doing it right for heaven's sakes let's get that corrected. But also, what the sanctions are, whether for individuals or for the process itself, so that we are as clear as we can be.
Having said that, the one comment I will make is — I think this is an area in which you will never achieve absolute clarity because we are public officials and people have free speech rights to approach us and there is that tension between that First Amendment and due process, which is making sure everything's on the record.
But I would ask again, if there are specific issues you want Marc and staff to look at please raise them, but I think it would be better if we bring this back, once again, to have as clear a presentation as possible.
Commissioner Scharff replied: Thanks, Zack. I covered my three issues.
Commissioner Moulton-Peters was recognized: I can make this brief. I have a definition question, a threshold question and then a suggestion.
The definition question is to perhaps clarify what an indirect communication is, as opposed to a direct communication, that's in section 10281. They are both called out, direct and indirect, but there isn't a definition of what indirect is.
The second is a threshold question also in that same section and that is, at what point does something become a pending adjudicatory matter? Is that when it is listed as an agenda item? As a new member that would be helpful to know when that happens.
Mr. Zeppetello responded: I can comment on that quickly. A pending matter is defined in the existing regulations. It is not in the package. But for example, on a permitting matter, it is when the permit application is filed; in an enforcement matter it is when a violation report is issued.
Commissioner Moulton-Peters acknowledged: Okay, great. Then I will just say, this may also be in guidance about how the public should be commenting to the Commissioners, and in addition how we respond. But it's always good to direct people what they are supposed to do as well as what they are not supposed to do, Commissioners included. Thank you.
Commissioner Eisen commented: I don't have anything to say about ex parte communications. I wanted to follow up on Commissioner Showalter’s comment about the Engineering Board and the changes both to the size of the Board and to the positions on the Board. I had a quick thought and maybe it is the old employment lawyer in me that thinks about that. Whenever we make a board or a commission smaller and we more narrowly define the positions on it we might run a bit of a risk of not having as much inclusion and diversity on these kinds of boards that we might otherwise have.
I know that every time we make a decision, we have that thought process go through our heads and I wanted to raise it once more in connection with this particular change. Thanks.
Mr. McCrea responded: Thank you, Commissioner Eisen. I am going to try and speak up because I am getting lots of chat that it is hard to hear me. Commissioner Pemberton is nodding her head, so I guess I am coming through loud and clear. On those two points, we have never had 11 members on the ECRB. It is hard to keep 11 members and so nine seems like a reasonable number.
Regarding inclusiveness and diversity — this Commission has, when we came through with our Design Review Board candidates, made several comments with regards to the importance of diversity on the Commission's advisory boards. As we are going through the ECRB process for repopulating or adding to board members for vacant positions, we are taking those words very seriously and are coming up with an outreach program that addresses it.
Chair Wasserman asked: Is that it, Peggy?
Ms. Atwell noted: That's it for the Commissioners. I do have a hand raised for an attendee and I don't think we ever formally closed the public comment.Chair Wasserman stated: We have not, let's hear from the public.
Ms. Atwell recognized Mr. Montes: It is Rafael, one of our own. Go ahead and unmute yourself, Rafael.
Staff Engineer Montes commented: My name is Rafael Montes and I am the Staff Engineer for BCDC, and earlier I tried to respond to Commissioner Showalter about certification of an engineering geologist. I have to say that some of our structural engineers serving on the Board are not certified structural engineers. One of them is a professor of structural engineering at UCB and the other one is just an expert on marine structures, and he is not necessarily a structural engineer.
So, when we look for an engineering geologist, I know that it will be very tough to get a certified engineering geologist, although there are some out there and we are going to try to reach out to them. But if we don't get certification but we get the experience, the knowledge, we will probably take a chance with her.
To respond to Commissioner Eisen on diversity; yes, we are going to advertise for diversity. We have a meeting of the ECRB next week and we are going to brief them on these proposed changes to the regulations.
Part of the criteria that we are going to expose them to was going to be not just the right field, because right now we are looking for four positions. We are going to be looking for geotechnical, coastal engineering, and an engineering geologist to succeed the current members, but we are also going to be reaching out to minority societies of professionals and we are going to be doing outreach all over the place including, perhaps even you in your communities. So yes, we are going to reach out. That's all I have.
Ms. Atwell continued: Thank you. Hold on one second. Commissioner Showalter has her hand up now. But before we go there could we close a public session?
Chair Wasserman asked for a motion and a second to close the public hearing.MOTION: Commissioner Showalter moved to close the public hearing, seconded by Commissioner Peskin. The motion carried by a voice vote with no abstentions or objections.
Commissioner Showalter stated: I was glad to hear staff's answer about they are looking for expertise in those subjects. I just know that if you are a civil engineer in the state of California and you advertise that you are going to do engineering work and you are not registered, it is illegal.
I would like the staff to look into the legality of putting in this terminology and it might be better to say expertise in these, just to keep it legal. I am not sure, but it makes me nervous.
Chair Wasserman acknowledged: Thank you. Any other questions or comments? (No further comments or questions were voiced) All right. This is not on for action. It will come back to us.
Executive Director Goldzband interjected: I apologize, Chair Wasserman. Can I ask Steve to come back in for about 12 seconds, because we want to make sure that we either correct or make clear something he said.
Chair Wasserman replied: Yes.
(Mr. Goldbeck’s audio was not working and he wasn’t able to be heard.)
Executive Director Goldzband continued: My understanding is that Steve said that MTC had taken an explicit position regarding the Mullin Bill and that has not yet occurred. But I want Steve to work on his audio and we will work on this after the Bay Adapt session.
- Briefing on Bay Adapt. Chair Wasserman stated: Item 9 is a briefing Bay Adapt. Jessica, take it away.
Planning Director Fain presented the following: Thank you, Chair Wasserman and thank you, Commissioners. I am Jessica Fain, Planning Director here at BCDC. I am pleased to present and to give you a briefing on Bay Adapt.
Today I am going to give you an update on the Bay Adapt initiative, specifically reporting back to you about a series of focus groups that we have held over the last month and a half; and I am thrilled to be joined by representatives from the Bay Adapt Leadership Advisory Group who have been co-hosting and co-leading these sessions with us.
Joining me is Julio Garcia from Nuestra Casa, Vinita Goyal from the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative, Caitlin Sweeney from the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, John Coleman from the Bay Planning Coalition, and Bruce Riordan from the Bay Area Climate Adaptation Network or BAYCAN.
I will be giving a brief introduction but then I really want to turn it over to them as our partners to share some of the key takeaways from these sessions with you.
So just quickly a reminder, I am not going to spend a lot of time on this portion, but what is Bay Adapt? This is our regional initiative to try to develop a regional, consensus-driven strategy that lays out the actions necessary to adapt the Bay Area to a rising sea level.
It is largely comprised of three key components, developing guiding principles, developing a joint platform of shared priority actions, and eventually adopting the joint platform. Right now we are in this number two phase and that is what we are going to be focused on today.
Here is a little visual of our journey so far. Over the past summer and fall over 100 working group members met numerous times to develop a preliminary draft of the joint platform, which includes 15 draft joint actions, so this is an exciting milestone we are at right now with this draft.
We have spent some time with you before going over these draft actions at my briefing to you last December. Here is the overview. I am not going to go through them in detail right now, but the actions range from establishing a regional adaptation vision and consistency framework to several actions on environmental justice and education and co-learning actions. Many actions that really get at this question of local and regional alignment, how can we move the region together amongst and across our different jurisdictions? And then finally, actions related to funding, legislation, data and science and project implementation.
We presented these to our Leadership Advisory Group last fall. They were really grateful for the breadth of the actions but requested that before we go out and do broader kind of public outreach that they told us three things.
First, that community perspectives need to be incorporated more clearly. Two, that there is a lack of clarity on some crucial details and questions. And then three, that without additional synthesis and clear public messaging it will be challenging for the public to be able to give meaningful feedback.
So that leads us to our current phase. Right now we are calling this our “Discuss and Polish” Phase where we put a bit of a pause to do some of this outreach. Staff has given over 50 high-level presentations to groups around the region, many that many of you sit on or participate in.
We also established a Joint Platform Subcommittee to do some of this polishing and refining work. We have an Outreach Subcommittee of our Leadership Advisory Group to help us kind of think about our outreach approach. And then we have these focus groups and that's really what we are going to be focusing on today. All of this is leading to the development of a Draft 2.0 of this joint platform.
So what are these focus groups and what's the purpose of them? They are to really discuss this draft joint platform with community and subject matter experts to learn is it clear, relatable, meaningful? How can it be better? How can it be strengthened? And is it something they could get behind and support?
We targeted these different audiences, frontline communities, youth, elected officials and local governments, civic and business community, and the environmental community.
The way that we are doing this, we had a few process approaches. The first is to make sure in the spirit of Bay Adapt we are really trying to ensure that this is not a BCDC initiative, it is really a joint initiative, and so that all focus groups would be cohosted by at least two Leadership Advisory Group members.
We generally wanted a consistent approach across the different focus groups so that we get consistent responses.
But we also knew we had to meet people where they are, that all these groups aren't speaking the same language; so while we generally had a similar set of presentations and ways of describing things we did tweak them to people in the different groups and speak to their familiarity with the topic.
We wanted to provide ways for people to stay involved afterwards, we didn't want to just go and get their input and leave.
And then finally, we were committed to trying to find and provide community stipends to our community members that were participating. I want to give a special thanks to the Bay Area Regional Collaborative for providing funding to allow that to happen.
Here is just an overview of the 10 focus groups that we hosted. We did four separate community meetings in East Palo Alto, one in Vallejo. We did three separate groups that were targeting elected officials and local government, a Bay-wide group, as well as specifically talking with the Marin BayWave Steering Committee and the San Mateo Sea Level Rise District Board. We also had specific groups with a civic and business group, and an environmental group. All together this was about 120 participants representing a range of subject and geographic diversity.
Now I am just going to launch into what we heard. As I mentioned, I am joined today by representatives who helped host these with us. First, we hosted community focus groups and Julio Garcia is here to talk a little bit about our partnership in East Palo Alto. As I mentioned, we had four evening sessions with them and their EJ Parent Academy cohort with participants from their African American cohort, Pacific Islander cohort, and Latino cohort.
And then we also worked with the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII), the Vallejo Housing Justice Coalition, to host a small group discussion with them with eight participants there.
Here are just some images from previous meetings. All of our meetings were virtual, of course, unfortunately. But we did make an effort to really tailor the presentations to meet those communities and you can see here just an example of one of the slides from the Vallejo presentation. So with that I would love to turn it over to Julio to share some of his key takeaways and I am going to put up a slide that bullets out a few of them.
Mr. Garcia addressed the Commission: Good afternoon, Commissioners. I am Julio Garcia from Nuestra Casa right here in East Palo Alto, so I am glad to be in front of you again. We decided to host these groups with Bay Adapt because we needed to see from the community perspective what they were thinking about Bay Adapt in these stages right now.
Some of the key takeaways were a strong desire for more education and awareness.
And that means both educating community members and educating professionals in what it is and what we are talking about in Bay Adapt.
Definitely provide leadership opportunities and local capacity building. That means to us that we needed to have more opportunities for our communities to have a voice. And also, we didn't have and help us to create capacity building also for these communities, especially right here in East Palo Alto.
One thing that came up really strong was to include intersectional issues, what it means, housing, transportation, food, mental health, to what is going on to Bay Adapt, rising tides and climate change and everything. That is something that came up. It is like we need to attach this to issues that happen every day in the community.
Definitely we say that youth education and engagement of communities and youth is the key for the Bay Adapt plan to succeed. Because we are almost gone right here so the youth is going to inherit all this and I think we need to work with them and engage in a lot more to be able to implement these plans.
We need to connect businesses with nonprofit organizations and create partnerships and create neighbors and regional support.
Also we need to dedicate long-term funding for capacity. Funding is hard to get and capacity is important because communities are experts on what is going on in the communities.
But we do need to provide capacity; the money to pay for stipends and all that so people will participate because one thing is that we need to value their time. And we are going to treat the people as free, but you know, we are experts in communities, that's why we need to value their time and that is why we provided a stipend to participate in these meetings and they were really, really happy for that.
One thing is that the City isn’t taking the SLR seriously and trust with government entities and communities that are not providing the input. And that's what nonprofit organizations command, to be like a bridge between government and other organizations for the community to be here.
And one of the things that they say is don't reinvent the wheel right here. So thank you, Jessica, that's the input for the community focus groups.
Ms. Fain acknowledged: Thank you, Julio.
Vinita, would you like to share any additional thoughts?
Ms. Goyal spoke: Yes. Thanks, Jessica, and thanks, Julio, for sharing that. Good afternoon, Commissioners. My name is Vinita Goyal. I am the Climate Resilience Lead at the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative, which is a coalition of health departments in the region. We advance health equity but typically use a racial justice lens.
For the Vallejo conversation we leveraged our partnership, as Jessica mentioned, with the Vallejo Housing Justice Coalition and cohosted the focus group conversation with the community in Vallejo and really solicited feedback on environmental-justice-focused actions in the Bay Adapt platform.
This was leveraging a partnership and we have been partners on another initiative called SPARCC, which stands for Strong, Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge Initiative, and basically includes a pilot program that demonstrates the efficacy and urgency of developing community-driven, community-controlled and community-resilient, permanent, affordable housing in Vallejo.
And so similar to what Julio shared for East Palo Alto, the focus group participants shared several insights. I only focus on the biggest because that was the need to have dedicated, long-term funding for capacity building to really sustain their engagement in these environmental-justice issues on an ongoing basis and this is something that BARHII has been advocating strongly as part of the Bay Adapt process.
There was just one other strong concern of the participants as they want to share their experience at the local level, that they are not aware of any local efforts that are being advanced in this area on sea level rise and they are also unaware of any community engagement activities that they might get engaged in. They are eager to learn about this process and get more materials and background information from BCDC and initiate some of those conversations.
The last thing that I just want to share is that BARHII’s, our kind of perspective and holding this and co-hosting this conversation, it was clear that the conversation provided a strong platform to really bust silos in planning and policy efforts and allowed us to understand community perspectives and priorities more broadly, as we know that sea level rise is only one of the many challenges that the Vallejo community faces, housing and affordability, lack of financial mobility and food security being some of the others. So, we saw and we appreciated the synergistic conversation that was allowed to emerge from this process. Thanks, Jessica, for letting us be a part of this process.
Ms. Fain acknowledged: Thank you, Vinita.
So moving on, the second group that we are going to be talking about is an environmental focus group. The San Francisco Estuary Partnership and the Sierra Club helped co-host with BCDC through a one-and-a-half-hour, virtual- listening session and 21 participants and here is a list of some of the organizations that were at that meeting. I am joined today by Caitlin Sweeney from the San Francisco Estuary Partnership who is going to share some of her key takeaways.
Ms. Sweeney presented the following: Thanks, Jessica. Thank you, Chair Wasserman, and Commissioners. It is pleasure to be here. I am also really glad I logged in early enough to hear the lovely tributes to Commissioner Halsted. Like many of the speakers I have known Anne for decades and I so agree with everything that was said about her. I can't help but just add one more thing to the long list of positive qualities as a former BCDC staffer, and that's really how respectful and supportive she always was of staff and how seriously she took her role as a mentor, particularly to women. I know I was by no means the only one young woman on staff that she made a point to reach out to and to show her support and offer her counsel. She was definitely a mentor to many and I think she forged the way and she was specifically cognizant of the challenges of being a woman in male-dominated fields. So thank you for those lovely words, I really appreciated those.
But back to Bay Adapt. As Jessica said, the Estuary Partnership hosted the Environmental Focus Group in February and I also want to credit and thank Arthur Feinstein with the Sierra Club and Carin High with Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge for their assistance with planning the meeting; and of course BCDC staff who, as always, put significant time and effort into the meeting as well. I would say there was overall support for the joint platform but we have a few key takeaways I wanted to touch on.
A critical key message from that session was the need to elevate the preservation of the ecological health of the Bay to the same level as the needs of shoreline communities and infrastructure. Really throughout the entire document I would say this is probably the most often stated area of frustration from environmental partners with the joint platform.
We heard this loud and clear during the focus group meeting and I have heard it elsewhere, it is really a common refrain, the idea that the Bay's natural systems have inherent worth and that protecting the health of the Bay and the ecosystem services it provides is as important as protecting our transportation infrastructure, our economy, our communities.
And of course if our collective adaptation efforts result in increased ecosystem function we will see those associated benefits in terms of protection of communities and infrastructure and economic vitality.
The platform certainly isn't silent with regard to this topic but I think the collective response among the environmental community is that the platform just doesn't read overall as elevating the environment to the same level. It is really, I think, a framing issue more than anything else, beginning with the first action or beginning with the stated goals and it trickles down to all parts of the platform.
And then some more detailed feedback included the suggestion to include protection and enhancement of biological resources in metrics that we develop to measure success towards regional goals. That is something we can revisit later on in the process.
Also, the importance of prioritizing nature-based approaches; not just encouraging but prioritizing those.
And that we need to protect existing Bay resources and our undeveloped shorelines with a combination of bigger sticks and larger carrots. Many attendees at the meeting spoke to the critical need to protect existing undeveloped shorelines as well as protecting areas where our shoreline tidal marshes may migrate inland to keep pace with sea level rise.
And to that end, many people spoke to the necessity really of regulatory approaches to meet that need. That there is no incentive or carrot that is going to be big enough to overcome development pressure; that we are going to need to rely on some regulatory sticks.
Along those lines there was concern expressed regarding efforts to streamline permitting for adaptation projects. That it is important to not facilitate easier development on our shorelines in the name of adaptation to the detriment of our ecosystems.
That being said, there is a real educational opportunity with a platform to promote the value of the Bay and how land use decisions impact the Bay’s health that could certainly help support various carrot approaches.
And lastly, it is important as the process continues to engage climate scientists, environmental scientists, biologists, resource agencies, etc., both in developing the platform and in implementing it.
And it makes space for meaningful involvement of environmental advocates, community-based organizations and environmental-justice organizations and really recognizing the environmental community as critical stakeholders and decision-makers in this arena.
Ms. Fain continued: Thank you, Caitlin.
I would now like to turn it over to John Coleman from the Bay Planning Coalition who along with the Building Industry Association, Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Bay Area Council co-hosted a one-and-a-half-hour, listening session with participants from a variety of business organizations, engineering firms and planning consultants, major property owners, insurers, and utility companies.
Mr. Coleman presented the following: Thank you, Jessica. I am just going to tee off real quickly what Caitlin said about Anne Halsted and I know Arthur chimed in earlier. She was a true lady to work with and wonderful and she'll be missed by all.
I need to start off by thanking Jessica, Dana, and Nick from BCDC staff who did a phenomenal job reaching out and providing the ability to participate. Yes, we had a good discussion. We had, again, from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Building Industry Association, Bay Area Council and BPC, the participants.
So the key takeaways: We a need regional strategy. It is not going to work to protect the Bay shoreline without a regional strategy.
We also need a consistent approach around the Bay that will be well-received by the building industry as long as economically feasible.
There was lots of discussion about permitting. And part of it, people get concerned when you talk about streamlining permitting. Nobody in our group was saying get rid of the environmental laws or the rules. Our concern is that the time to get to do the work by permitting may take so long that what we want to do or it will be too late to take care of what needs to be done. Again, it was not talking about getting rid of any permits.
The idea of funding was talked about, including financial risk management, insurance, and the role of the private sector and how they might be able to help be part of the solution. Since everybody knows, state and federal funding is limited and the long-term funding for what needs to be done is extremely high. As a partner between the public and private sector, we might be able to come up with a way to help get from here to there in order to solve what needs to be done.
We need to talk about sharing early success stories and examples and about be specific on sites and what other cities and regions and how their cities and regions are dealing with this, perhaps beyond the Bay Area and in California.
We are also ready to engage on legislation that brings more resources to the Bay. The solution is really to develop a regional vision, consistency framework to identify the region's big goals for what a successful adaptation looks like to provide guidelines for an evaluation tool to make sure local plans are part of the action. And form a working collaborative responsible to identify and coordinate with agencies which agency should administer which tasks within the joint platform near the regional-wide actions that support the regional goals and vision.
So again, thank you to the staff at BCDC. Ms. Fain acknowledged: Thank you, John.
The final set of focus groups was around local government, both staff and elected officials. We hosted a region-wide group who co-hosted with BayCAN, Supervisor Pine, Greenbelt Alliance, and the Water Board. This included elected officials and staff from around the Bay. We really tried to be very comprehensive in terms of who was invited to participate in this two-hour session.
Bruce Riordan is going to be sharing a few takeaways from this session. Just to note, we also hosted sessions with the Marin BayWAVE Steering Committee and the San Mateo Sea Level Rise and Flood District Board. I don't want to put Commissioner Moulton-Peters or Commissioner Pine on the spot but both of them were participating in those and they might have additional thoughts to share during our discussion afterwards.
Mr. Riordan addressed the Commission: Thanks, Jessica. Good afternoon, Commissioners. Let me also say thank you for your tribute, your excellent tribute to Anne Halsted earlier. I had the great fortune when I worked for the Joint Policy Committee to work with Anne for a number of years and the fortune to get to know Anne and Wells socially.
Everything you said is absolutely true times ten. The definition of an engaged citizen, I always thought.
We had a two-hour focus group in late January, a real mix of elected officials and staff from local governments. A very interesting two-hour discussion and you see on the screen some of the key takeaways.
Three things. First, they generally thought that the Bay Adapt platform has all the right elements, very comprehensive. They actually kind of joked about what did you leave out? Not much. Fifteen actions. It really describes a very robust program and they were complimentary that we had put a lot of work into developing the draft and overall supportive of the need to do this kind of thing.
Here are three concerns and you can see them on the screen. The first is they said look, this version of it is not going to be attractive to engaging elected officials and the general public. It is good for planners. It was mostly done by planners; that is who we are. But you are really going to need to put it in different language. But that was a concern. We will get to the solution in a minute.
Also from the top they were kind of suspicious and concerned — who is going to do this? It is a big program. And they all looked at it and we described it and talked about all the different, the 15 different pieces, and they were wondering, is this BCDC? It doesn't say it is BCDC. Is it a new agency? Is it some collaborative? They were worried about the vagueness there.
And tied to that action too they had some specific concerns about what does this mean that we are going to have a collaborative structure for administering adaptation? What does it mean for us as a city or a county or a water district? So those were, I'd say, three of the key concerns.
Their suggestions, because they were constructive, this group was. More focus on why we need to work collaboratively around the Bay. It is some in the presentation and all, but it is mostly about what we're going to do. Get people engaged first on why we have to have a Bay Adapt or collaboration like this. Don't assume that everybody is on board and you just need to show what we are going to do.
Make this something that cities and others will want to participate in. There are a lot of positives here.
Lead with the benefits about funding, about science, about technical assistance, all the good things that are going to come from a program like Bay Adapt. It reads a little bit right now a lot like we are going to require this or we are going to do this or do that. But lead with how it is really going to help people and let them want to jump on board.
Julio mentioned this earlier so we had this one too. Make it very clear, or clearer, how this relates to Plan Bay Area. How this relates to housing and affordability and other big issues that we are all dealing with and our local electeds in this focus group are dealing with on a day- to-day basis. How does this big, big effort link to some of those big, big issues?
And finally, be more explicit about the social equity as a goal. There are a couple of actions, action three and action four here, but kind of elevate it here. Raise it up. Make it more of an explicit goal for the program. That's our short report, back to you, Jessica.
Ms. Fain concluded her presentation: In conclusion, our next steps. We are going to be taking all this feedback to develop this Joint Platform 2.0. Staff is already working on that and hoping to bring it back to our Leadership Advisory Group in April. We intend to do broader outreach after that in May including a public forum and a comment period and more direct outreach. Our goal is to hopefully try to see if we can adopt and begin implementing in the summer.
I will end there. I know several of the speakers had to jump off but for those who are remaining I am sure would be happy to answer questions and hear from you. Thank you.
Chair Wasserman inquired: Peggy, are there any public comments?
Mr. Feinstein spoke: Hi, everybody, Arthur Feinstein with the Sierra Club, Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge, etc.
First, I'd like to thank you for holding the Bay Adapt process and I think Caitlin gave a very good representation of what came out of our focus group in terms of our overall concern about the failure.
First, I wanted to start off by saying we really appreciate staff. They have been very open, very responsive, but there have been a lot of problems with Bay Adapt. And the first problem is that it really treated the Bay as insignificant almost, I would say. In an earlier iteration they put driving commutes as a factor that is more important than the health of the Bay. Coming from a BCDC enterprise — that was extremely concerning since you have conservation first before development. After hearing from us that that was a concern it has been changing slowly but certainly not enough and the emphasis on preserving our Bay ecosystem is still, to many of us, minimal. And we really hope that changes.
Some of the issues we have had with Bay Adapt. As far as I know I am just about the only actual representative of an environmental-conservation organization on the working groups. I might be missing one or two, but out of a large number of members of the working groups, really, I am the one who is making these comments. And yet there are many others, as you saw from the focus group who feel the same way but that was not present in the working groups.
And that was a result of exclusion. Carin High, who is with the Citizens to Complete the Refuge, tried to get on a working group and was excluded for some reason. So not only is the Bay somewhat belittled but its advocates were not present for the most part. So we appreciated the focus group but we felt it was a little too little too late. I hope not too late, but a little too little and I hope that can be turned around.
I think another example is you have had no environmentalist help make this presentation to you for what came out of the working group. That might have been appropriate. Although Caitlin did a great job and did represent the fact that the overall feeling is, again, that the Bay is being only marginally represented in terms of its importance in looking at what we should do.
So I hope the focus group helped staff recognize this and start improving. And they have been improving. I have been hammering every meeting on these issues and others have been supportive of that who are not from environmental organizations. So it has been improving but it still has quite a ways to go.
So we are looking forward to seeing a product that puts the Bay’s health on a par with our infrastructure because really, if we have a somewhat dead Bay because of all sea walls and no shallow water habitats and no wildlife there anymore, the Bay will be a very different place to live in and I think it will not be as prosperous as it is now. So I do think that the Bay deserves the kind of attention it received when BCDC was created in the first place.
So we are looking forward to working with staff on constantly improving how they perceive the Bay and how Bay Adapt works towards doing a joint/dual purpose of preserving our communities to the extent we can in the face of extensive sea level rise and preserving our Bay to the extent we can in the face of extensive sea level rise, both of which are threatened by that sea level rise. We have great hopes. Hope it comes out all right. Thank you.
Chair Wasserman asked: Questions, comments from Commissioners?
Commissioner Butt commented: Thank you. This was a great presentation and a lot of really interesting content, most of which I would characterize as being qualitative in nature.
As an elected official that has to deal real time, with development proposals that have all the impacts and considerations that we have just seen, I think what we are most desperate for is some clear guidance about how to quantify predicted sea level rise in terms of CEQA review and reviewing projects.
The information that is out there now is inconsistent. It is unclear about what information prevails and what information we are obligated to follow. And kind of a corollary to that is guidance about the planning horizon for projects.
We all know that that nobody can predict exactly what sea level rise is going to be any given year from now. We do have a lot of guidance about ranges. But when you are reviewing a proposed project you can't deal with ranges, it either accommodates sea level rise or it doesn't and you have got to pick a number. That number may be the maximum predicted number in the range or it might be the median or the middle or the average or something like that, but it is a number. Coupled with that is a presumption about the planning horizon for a project. There are projects that are obviously built to last 100 years and there are other projects that are not built to last past next summer.
You have to put all that together and come up with something and that is really what we desperately need. It is a huge problem right now and it is going to get nothing but worse. So that's what I am hoping. I know that is kind of a different process than what we just saw but I just want to make a pitch for it. It is broken right now. What we have is not usable and it is not working.
Commissioner Gunther was recognized: First of all I want to really thank Jessica and the staff and everyone working on this. It is my understanding that there was a pretty strong critique a few months ago that there hadn't been enough outreach and discussion and it looks like you really took that advice to heart and have reached out in a very a complete way and I really am impressed that several different members of your focus groups are taking their time to address us today. That is really great. I really feel like I hope that the community that criticized you a few months ago feels listened to and it appears to me because there is participating today that that's happened.
I just wanted to ask you, I was thinking about something Mr. Riordan said in his presentation about people not wanting to participate in this. As a scientist in the public sphere for many years I have been routinely criticized that if I ran a grocery store and I wanted to sell a cake mix that I would be putting the cake mix on the counter with the recipe facing out, instead of the picture of the cake facing out, and expecting people to buy it by looking at the recipe.
And I think that is actually a very valid critique of a lot of scientific communication.
So I was wondering whether we have, do you feel like we have a picture of the cake that we are trying to bake here? And in particular, we also have the issue of what the region might look like if we don't bake this cake well. It is not something I think we need right now but there is going to be a point where we really have to make the case in a compelling and easily accessible way, what happens if we are not successful moving forward on these 15 projects in a coordinated fashion.
I am not exactly sure what that looks like but I would hope that at some point here we really begin to start thinking about that as part of our communications package so people understand the compelling nature of why we need to participate in this now and why we need to do this.
I think that we saw recently in Texas what happens when a community does not prepare for a predicted problem. I hope we can take that lesson as we go forward and think about how we really communicate this in a way that makes people want to participate; it makes people understand what is at risk if we don't.
Commissioner Showalter commented: It is hard to follow up on the cake mix analogy.
That was really good.
I just want to kind of ditto what Dr. Gunther just said but just state that I really do think we need to explain to people why we need to collaborate. From a scientific point of view or an engineering point of view, I think Katrina was a beautiful, horrible example.
When we looked at the flood protection project projects that they had in New Orleans what really happened, what really happened in so many places was where those projects came together nobody had planned for how that connection was going to work, or many of them have not planned for how that connection was going to work. So they were all, all these different cities or all these different water districts that had their very own little project that was supposed to work, didn't, because flooding from their neighbor might have happened, or there might have been a bounce off of a wave that went to them.
I know that I am not explaining this simply and that is not my strength. But we do need to get in some fairly easy language that is very understandable and perhaps some graphics why, making sure that the sea level rise system, the protection system that we put in place, is connected, and protects everybody. Maybe the cake mix analogy is the best one. Thank you.
Chair Wassermann continued: A couple of comments. I want to echo the compliments from the various participants and Commissioners. I think this was an excellent presentation.
Part of the difficulty that we are all grappling with is this is an immensely complex problem. One of the ways to show the cake mix, and there have actually been examples of this over the last few years, is to show the inundation and destruction of our wetlands and marshlands and infrastructure that can so easily happen with rising sea levels.
We have not had massive destruction here. Unfortunately, that is both good news and bad news. Obviously, it is good news that we haven't had the destruction. The bad news is it is hard to get those images across in a very real way, in a meaningful way.
The other piece of it is that we have been very concerned about not wanting to scare people unless and until we have got some real ways to say, and here is what we can do and are doing in order to prevent those scenarios from occurring. What the process of Bay Area Adapt and the lag and the groups that Jessica and others described is, in fact, getting this out.
As you have heard, we listened very hard to the concerns from several different and, frankly, often not allied groups, that what we had put together was not, to keep the cake analogy going, baked well enough or packaged well enough. At some level it is never going to be packaged well enough until it is over and we are all swimming away from our homes. So it is a balance.
We will certainly take the comments that we have heard today and that have been put forth in the various workshops and exposures that Jessica talked about.
The next steps that we have talked about for some time are when we get this packaged enough, not perfectly, not completely, not as well as we would really desire it but as best we can, we are going to take that out to a much wider array of forums. Of course, much of this does depend on finding some of the resources to do that working on the broader educational campaign that our educational working group is focusing on. We have done a huge amount of work. The truth is, we have got even more work ahead of us.
So I am very thankful for the input we have received both here and through the workshops. We are going to keep working at it. It is getting better. And we are going to take it out and it is not going to be perfect. That is the one thing I guarantee you. But we are going to get it out there because we need to start this moving forward.
And I want to address one other issue and Bruce raised it but many others have. There's the question that is a little vague, who is going to lead this effort? Well, at some level what we want is an entity that can compel us to do this; and what we also want is to make sure that nobody is going to overrule, overpower or take control over local jurisdictions.
There is that inherent tension. What I believe BCDC has been doing, what I believe we should and will continue to do, is lead this dialogue forward in as collegial and cooperative ways that we can. But we are going to keep it moving forward because to do any less is to not fulfill the commitments that we have made. And frankly, the obligations that I think of the McAteer- Petris Act itself broadly interpreted and the various things the legislature have done, tells us we have to do.
I thank you all. We are going to keep at it. We recognize we still have a whole lot of work and we hope that all of you and all of the organizations that have participated and that have been named or are not here today will continue to assist us in that effort. There is no action on the Agenda today.
Mr. Goldbeck chimed in: Chair Wasserman, can you hear me now?
Chair Wasserman answered: Yes. You want to come in and make the correction, Steve?
Mr. Goldbeck continued: Yes. The timing is apropos. Sorry for the sound, I am not sure what happened, so I apologize for my laptop. In my brief remarks on the Mullin Bill I stated that MTC was advocating that the MPOs take the lead. Actually since that time I got more information from MTC staff that MTC has not taken a formal position on the Bill. So I just wanted to make sure that everybody understands and not mislead anybody. The MTC is still discussing this but there is no formal position yet. As was discussed just now, this is all something we are all discussing and trying to figure out. So that's all, thank you.
Chair Wasserman acknowledged: Thank you very much. I guess the one other comment briefly I would make, which ties into what Steve said, is, when we talk about leading the sustainability effort, sustainability is a very broad effort and requires many, many things. What we are doing, of course, is focusing on sustainability as it relates to rising sea level, which is a very critical part of the mix but it is only one part of the mix.
- Briefing on the Port of San Francisco’s Resilience Program. Item 10 is a briefing on the Port of San Francisco’s resilience program. Jessica is again on the front line presenting this.
Planning Director Fain presented the following: Thank you Chair Wasserman; thankfully I don't need to give the whole presentation. I am joined today by Executive Director of the Port, Elaine Forbes and Port Resilience Director, Brad Benson, who are going to be giving this presentation. I will just introduce it by saying for a meeting that is in the spirit of Anne Halsted, this couldn't be more of an appropriate item to have agendized today.
At our Commission meetings over the next several months we will also be agendizing several other items related to Port Special Area Plan topics including a proposal for Piers 30/32. Today's briefing is not that discussion. Rather, the goal of this presentation is really to share with you an overview of the Port's entire portfolio of initiatives that address and aim to mitigate multiple hazards facing the San Francisco Waterfront. So with that I will turn it over to Elaine.
Ms. Forbes addressed the Commission: Thank you so much, Jessica. Good afternoon, Chair Wasserman, Commissioners, Executive Director Goldzband. I am Elaine Forbes, the Port Director of San Francisco and I am really just here to introduce Brad Benson who is our Director of Resiliency, but before doing so I just wanted to make a couple of comments.
It was so interesting listening to the last discussion because that is exactly part of what we are grappling with in San Francisco. First and foremost I want to thank BCDC for your leadership as it relates to sea level rise, first in the ART Program and then continuing with Bay Adapt. It is just absolutely critical that we take a regional approach and develop policy and planning guidelines for how to protect the Bay and our coastal communities.
In the San Francisco Waterfront we are really facing two dual threats. One related to seismic and FEMA has long noted an earthquake in San Francisco is one of the major safety risks we face. The San Francisco Waterfront suffers from some very, very poor soils which you will hear about shortly. For this risk we are really racing against the clock in terms of interventions to make us safer and make the community safer as the Port will be a spot of disaster response in a major earthquake.
The second, of course, is sea level rise. We have just completed a multi-hazard, risk assessment of three miles of Port property. Of course, we are the trustees of seven and a half miles of property. This three miles is the seawall segment from Fisherman's Wharf just north of Mission Creek. The results are in and Brad will be talking about those today.
We have a lot to learn. It is very complicated about how to make a resilient and safe waterfront along these three miles and we are also analyzing the whole seven and a half mile stretch and looking in the Southern Waterfront and doing analysis of our risks.
This MHRA data is going to be foundational to us for decades as we make changes because the work that was done was really boring into soil. Understanding the utilities and all the infrastructure that the seawall supports and understanding what is behind our hard urban edge in San Francisco; and it is a lot. You will see today a lot is protected by that seawall.
It is time now that we are entering our creative planning and design phase of the program so it is a perfect time to collaborate with our regulatory partners, city agencies and the public to develop risk mitigation approaches that respond to our really unique shoreline conditions. I called it a hard urban edge with collective uses along our waterfront. And we have a lot of to learn from BCDC and other regional and national efforts.
We are also challenged with the very difficult job of creating financing for the improvements we need to make our waterfront safer. It is not an inexpensive endeavor but we are very lucky that we have at least about a 10 percent down payment from San Francisco voters who approved Proposition A which is a general obligation bond. This is a very important start.
So like other ports and shoreline areas we face big challenges but I know we can tackle them with the support and collaboration of our partners. BCDC and you all are so critical in this endeavor and we look forward to working together to create a safe and resilient waterfront. So now thank you for allowing me to make these opening remarks. I will turn the presentation over to Brad Benson, the Port's Waterfront Resilience Director. Thank you.
Mr. Benson spoke: Thank you, Elaine. Thank you, Jessica. Good afternoon, Chair Wasserman, Commissioners, Executive Director Goldzband. I just want to start with my fond memory of Anne Halsted. I came to work at the Port of San Francisco in 2006 and I really didn't know very much at all about a very complicated regulatory context, what it means to manage a public waterfront.
Through SPUR there was a committee convened to write a paper, Hard Choices at the Port of San Francisco, and Anne Halsted was a participant in that group for close to a year and it was just the mentoring that was talked about earlier. She is just such a deep, public-policy thinker. She is so committed to supporting staff. So I just wanted to add those thoughts.
We really appreciate the opportunity to present today to the Commission. I just wanted to provide a brief overview of our presentation. I will be talking a little bit about what we have learned in the multi-hazard, risk assessment that Elaine mentioned. We are really just kicking off our planning framework. We are calling this our adapt plan and then would like to close by talking about next steps and opportunities to collaborate with BCDC, State Lands and others.
I will start up front talking about we have been very committed to community and stakeholder engagement over the past three years. Being a manager of a public waterfront it is so important as we get into this resilience work that we are reflecting community priorities in how we approach it and we are bringing the public along, because it is complicated.
Since I have been at the Port I think that this is our most aggressive, public-engagement effort that I have been involved in. We have been to over 115 community and stakeholder groups, including multi-lingual presentations. We have had a workshop series. A very well- attended event at the Exploratorium was one of our last big events pre-COVID.
Like everybody else we have had to move online and continue trying to engage and are very much looking forward to getting back out in public because there is a lot of interest. We find that people want to connect with this work, they care about it, they appreciate that government is taking action in this area.
Currently, we have got to focus on youth engagement. We are working with up to 15 nonprofit, youth-serving organizations citywide.
I won't play this video but this link is to a video by BAYCAT. They worked with San Francisco low-income youth and young people of color to explain the work that is going on in the Waterfront Resilience Program and I think really hit that clear, simple messaging about why we should care.
So, to give a brief overview of the elements of the Waterfront Resilience Program. As Elaine mentioned, it is a port-wide effort, seven and a half miles. Some of the efforts, like the Adapt Plan, cover the entire port.
We feel very lucky to be partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a general investigation of the San Francisco Waterfront. As a matter of fact, we just had Army Corps leadership from headquarters touring the Port yesterday to understand the complexity of this waterfront, the complexity of the challenge that we are dealing with in terms of sea level rise, and a city that is built up right to that shoreline edge.
As Elaine mentioned, we are advancing our understanding of seismic risk in the Southern Waterfront.
We have also been collaborating with the Municipal Transportation Agency, the Planning Department, and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission on the Islais Creek adaptation strategy in the Bayview, which will inform that flood study.
All of this work is nested within a broader city, regional and state policy framework. The City has adopted a Hazards & Climate Resilience Plan that includes a lot of Port initiatives. The Department of the Environment is leading the City's Climate Action Plan. Planning departments did a Sea Level Rise Action Plan and Vulnerability and Consequences Assessment city wide, so we are really trying to fit into that broader City frame.
To give you a sense of where we are, we are pretty early in program development. We have spent a lot of time over the last couple of years examining existing conditions, taking stock of all the assets in the future floodplain, doing very comprehensive modeling and risk assessment work through that multi-hazard, risk assessment that Elaine mentioned.
Now we think we have a handle on that and that is informing work to how do we begin to think about mitigating those risks; we have been developing seismic measures, flood measures. Today the wharf along the San Francisco Waterfront provides flood protection for much of the Historic District. We have looked at is there a way to raise that work zone. We have also been thinking about those 2100 water levels and what we need to adapt to.
All of that is informing a process that we are in now of developing alternatives to mitigate flood and seismic risk. We are hoping that culminates in program and project recommendations towards the end of the year. All of this will be documented in what we hope will be a very publicly accessible, adapt plan as we move into designing projects.
A little bit about what we have learned in the hazard analysis. It is very important what is underground. We did a geotechnical exploration program, close to 100 borings, so that we could develop mapping of these soil conditions to understand the behavior of soils and how they interact with structures.
This is our concern. The fill in the San Francisco Waterfront was not engineered over 100 years ago when it was placed. That is likely a condition elsewhere around the Bay. It is on top of young, Bay mud. Those soils will liquefy in a major earthquake. They are on a slope and so we expect slope failure, pushing the seawall Bayward; seeing the damage to the roadway and also to the pile-supported structures supported on piles driven through the seawall.
It is not conjecture. What you see in the bottom, right-hand corner of your screen is lateral spreading in the 1906 earthquake. This is right near the Pier 27 Cruise Terminal today.
This assessment also looked at sea level rise and there are many of these scenarios out there. The state of California’s curves that you see here do not match up with the Corps’ sea level rise curves and that is an issue that we are trying to grapple with as we do this planning.
We have done extensive flood mapping looking at shoreline overtopping in 100-year, flood events and also just with tidal flooding and we are beginning to look at the issue of groundwater rise as well.
We have a key tipping point along the San Francisco Waterfront. At about two feet of sea level rise we start to see extensive damages.
With three feet of sea level rise we see damage deep into the downtown, well off of Port property. Significant impacts to utility infrastructure, the roadway, light rail infrastructure.
As we total these damages and disruption we see up to $30 billion in costs from combined seismic and flood risk by 2100.
This is a No Action scenario if the City did nothing. There was some good news. South of the Bay Bridge you see that we don't have as much lateral-spread risk, so that is a more stable area but there is still earthquake risk there. The Ferry Building area has very high, lateral- spread risk, although I will note that the Ferry Building did survive the 1906 Earthquake. We are very concerned about the performance of the bulkhead wharves; this is where the piers meet the shoreline between Pier 1 and Pier 39.
We are also seeing very significant damages under relatively modest earthquakes to the Embarcadero Roadway, underground utility infrastructure and transit infrastructure, as well as a concern about the older, pile- supported structures in Fisherman's Wharf.
What is not shown here are the disaster response considerations. We have got a follow- up to this exercise to interview emergency-response managers, both in the City and regionally and statewide. We are concerned about losing potentially most of the access to our deep-water berths. What do they need in terms of responding to an earthquake in terms of water-side access?
Now I will turn to our Adapt Plan. This will be the Port's Roadmap to Resilience. Through community engagement we developed this vision statement that the
Waterfront Resilience Program will take actions to reduce seismic and climate change risks that support a safe, equitable, sustainable, and vibrant waterfront.
Connected to that vision statement, a series of principles. I won't go through all of these right now but obviously we want to prioritize life safety and disaster response, clearly that we need to advance equity throughout the program and the public places a very high value on leading a transparent process.
So the Adapt Plan will guide the Port's actions over the next several decades, including the recommendations for the first Proposition A projects. It will also incorporate the recommendations from the Corps’ Flood Resiliency Study.
The Adapt Plan will nest with the Port's other planning documents, the Waterfront Plan has a new resilience section as does the Port’s Strategic Plan. Because of the changing science we think we will need to review the Adapt Plan every five years and make adjustments accordingly.
We will include the public trust and the regulatory context for the Port. We do have a human-made waterfront but we want to find as many opportunities for nature-based interventions as we can along the waterfront. And obviously, we want to document historic resource considerations in the Plan.
Elaine mentioned funding and the challenge with funding. San Francisco is very lucky.
We have a lot of resources in the City. I will say, even for San Francisco this challenge overwhelms the City's capacity for capital investment. That down payment with Proposition A is, I think, one of the first locally voter-approved, general-obligation bonds, but we need to assemble other sources.
We have had a great deal of success with our neighborhood scale development projects, which have raised grades to deal with sea level rise.
As we are turning to finger pier development, in the past we looked to those projects to provide seismic safety improvements to the piers consistent with secretary standards. Now we are looking at the connection with the shoreline and what can these projects do to provide increased shoreline stability and coastal-flood protection for the City? Can they be part of that broader, coastal-flood, protection system and what role can improve piers play in disaster response?
We are in this creative process. We need to invite people in as we are developing alternatives to reduce these risks.
The way that we are thinking about Adapt Plan alternatives, they can comprise construction projects, policies, and further planning work, because we know this planning work is going to go on for many, many years.
We have been developing those seismic and flood measures. The two key lessons that we are learning along the way is that we want to reduce both seismic and flood risk wherever we can, build once. And what can we do to improve habitat along this manmade waterfront and we need to learn a lot about what can be effective.
We will be assessing these alternatives through evaluation criteria that the public have helped us develop in these four categories so that we are thinking comprehensively about how we are approaching improvements to the waterfront.
And then finally, it is a highly visible, very publicly- accessible, urban waterfront.
We will be developing adaptation design guidelines. We have got a lot of current design thinking about the waterfront and we don't want to reinvent that, we want to build on that.
But we are going to need to change elevations and there is not a lot of space to adapt on the San Francisco Waterfront, so how you gain that elevation in a way that considers ADA access, public access, the historic resources along the waterfront, is a challenge. We have kicked this effort off and want to thank BCDC staff for participating in this.
I will close by talking about our hope to engage. I mentioned the adaptation, design guidelines. We are in this process of developing alternatives and we will need feedback from our Resource and Regulatory Agency Working Group, both BCDC and State Lands are participating in that. At the end of the year we will publish the draft adapt plan for public comment and seek your comment as well. Again, we just have to thank you for participating in the Army Corps of Engineers Flood Resiliency Study so that we can incorporate your learning through Bay Adapt and the State Lands Commission's oversight of AB 691.
Thank you very much and I am available to answer any questions. Chair Wasserman asked: Peggy, do we have any public speakers? Ms. Atwell replied: No, nobody has their hand up.
Chair Wasserman acknowledged: Thank you. Comments, questions from Commissioners?
Vice Chair Chappell commented: Thank you, Mr. Benson, a very impressive presentation of really important work. As Director Forbes and you said, very expensive fixes for building resilience. The question is what role does Port development play in building resilience?
Mr. Benson explained: Thank you. At Pier 70 and Mission Rock neighborhood, scale development played a huge role. BCDC permitted some of these projects. We saw grade changes in Mission Bay of up to five feet or more, even more at Pier 70, to address sea level rise. It is easy to understand how that happens in a neighborhood scale development.
With the finger piers it is a little bit more of a challenge. In the past our finger-pier, development projects have provided seismic upgrades just for the piers themselves and many of those projects were executed before we knew about the shoreline, instability problem, or had an idea that we needed to provide coastal-flood protection at the shoreline edge. So we are doing a lot of thinking now about how we can engage those partners in making critical improvements in that nearshore environment and we are going to have to come up with a range of approaches to evaluate.
We are in discussions with the developer at 38 and 40 about this right now and we are really hoping that there is a smart move that we can make in that marginal wharf area.
Chair Wasserman commented: Thank you very much. I also want to compliment you, Brad. Although I will tell you frankly, as you were talking I went back and forth in my mind as to whether your calm and reassuring voice was the correct tone exactly, or not at all the correct tone.
The presentation that you made illustrates the difficulties we were talking about in the previous item of both scaring us very badly with truth and also talking about potential solutions. I think that we need to look, staff needs to look at your presentation as sort of a model of that and figure out how best we can do that and how we can do that graphically and simply but also effectively, so a very large challenge. I thank you very much for your presentation.
Again, there is no action on this item so we will move to Item 11.
- Briefing on Enforcement. Item 11 is a briefing on the Commission’s Enforcement Program. Priscilla Njuguna will make the presentation.
Enforcement Policy Manager Ms. Njuguna was recognized. She informed the Commissioners that the brief update on the Enforcement Program would focus on progress in 2021. After an overview of the presentation she reiterated the enforcement goals of deterrence, transparency, consistency, and fairness noting each of the definitions of the terms as used on the slides.
Ms. Njuguna then stated that the Enforcement Committee's contributions included providing feedback following two updates on the City of Oakland’s compliance with the Union Point Park cease and desist orders further down in this presentation and an oldest case resolution update for five cases opened in 2000 or earlier.
She then contrasted the case resolution summary as of December 31, 2020 to the case resolution as of March 16, 2021. She reiterated the program’s departure from a dichotomy of cases meaning active and inactive cases to a more nuanced approach that documents the progression of a case from when it is first reported to when it is resolved and informed the Commissioners they would no longer receive updates on cases being actively pursued in the same way they had previously received updates. Instead updates would focus on the systematic investigation towards resolution of cases once reported to increase the number of cases within the Resolution Imminent status codes. She used slides to illustrate this progression and contrasted a pie chart with December 31, 2020 to a pie chart with March 16, 2021 data to show more cases are close to resolution.
She reiterated the definition of Old Cases as those that occurred prior to 2017 noting that the number of Old Cases went from 104 in December to 89 in March 2021.
And then for the Oldest Cases, as I mentioned, we have given an update to the Enforcement Committee on those cases.
She reminded the Commissioners about the Cease and Desist order issued in January for the Dhillon matter and went on to describe the 32 Cases Opened during the first quarter of 2021. She noted that BCDC typically gets 5 new cases a month but has received substantially more. But a number of these reports were duplicate cases and have been resolved.
She explained that 50 cases have been closed in 2021 through March 16th noting additional progress in the closure of the old cases opened pre-2017.
Ms. Njuguna gave a detailed explanation of the pie chart depicting the progression of cases from when they are received to when they are resolved. She emphasized that having more cases in Resolution Imminent status code will represent efficient case resolution.
Ms. Njuguna then gave an update on the Union Point Park cease and desist order compliance. She noted that the City, having received a one-month one-time extension from the Executive Director to close the consolidated homeless encampment by March 12, 2021 successfully closed the encampment. She showed photographs of the park taken 11 AM on March 18 as well as the pictures received from local community members showing site conditions on March 12, 2021 to show the improvement to the site over time. She noted that BCDC staff will continue to monitor compliance of the Union Point Park Cease and Desist Order.
But they are also working on developing their Restoration Plan for the Park, which is due to BCDC on September 1st. Thereafter the City’s restoration plan is needed by April 1, 2022.
Ms. Njuguna concluded the presentation by reiterating the ongoing work to resolve enforcement cases while looking forward to a time when it is feasible to obtain an integrated database to enhance regulatory as well as general BCDC efficiency for real time tracking of related matters within BCDC. Long term it may enable BCDC to create a culture of compliance where Staff provide the regulated community with information in advance to set expectations and work smarter.
She noted that the financial ability to hire dedicated compliance staff would assist in enhancing efficiency.
Chair Wasserman asked if there were any questions for Priscilla or other staff. He then asked if there were public comments.
Ms. Atwell answered that there were no hands raised.
Commissioner Gunther was recognized and having acknowledged the work the City has done towards improving site conditions asked about the types of ongoing safety concerns from local residents at Union Point Park and how they are being addressed.
Ms. Njuguna explained that there are ongoing concerns about the level of violence noting that the Oakland Police Department has addressed those concerns as best as they can. She noted that the City’s 48-hour response time for incidents reported through their implementation of their Enforcement Management Plan should help address these concerns.
She noted that among the measures the City intends to implement is having a gate to limit access into the parking lot adjacent to where the encampment was previously located and limit access to local residents with credentials for entry. This is anticipated to create a level of security, including having Oakland Police Department patrols that are more regular in addition to the posted signs that the City now has additional signs will be posted documenting what will happen and when, as the restoration of Union Point Park is undertaken.
Executive Director Goldzband thanked and credited the enforcement team and everyone who worked really well and hard to obtain the reported outcome despite real opposition from the homeless community.
He noted that what the City of Oakland has done has been to comply with BCDC’s Order noting that firstly the Oakland Police Department and the City has to recognize the difficult circumstances, and note the geographically significance of the area after BCDC’s Enforcement Committee took on the matter. Secondly, he asserted that the City of Oakland needs to work with its co-permittee, the Unity Council, to get that Park up and running and busy with families and with people who want to visit the Park and want to use the new Park. Because the busier the Park is with activities that are park-based, the more difficult it will be for non-park users to use the Park and cause disturbances around the Park.
Chair Wasserman thanked everyone for their efforts, including the City of Oakland noting that as previously stated the resolution of the Union Point Park matter has been a very difficult one for everybody concerned, including BCDC. He noted, however, that BCDC is not responsible for the safety of the encamped residents. He echoed the Executive Director’s and other compliments to the staff on enforcing the terms of the permit and ensuring that the public can access this area. He also noted that the issue of getting people to the Park is not BCDC’s responsibility nor does BCDC have the tools and resources to do that. What BCDC can and has done is make sure as best it can that the terms of the permit are met, that the public can get there, and that the permittees fulfill their responsibilities. That is what BCDC is doing and will continue to do.
Mr. McCrea stated that BCDC staff can be supportive of proposals that come forward, even proposals that we wouldn't normally see or that we might think might be overuse of the Park. But I think it would be okay to sort of open up the regulatory valve and let a lot of different ideas occur in this Park, at the risk of overusing it from a public perspective.
Chair Wasserman acknowledged Mr. McCrea’s comment and thanked him.
Commissioner Randolph was recognized by the Chair and spoke. He asked for confirmation that there is no encampment activity at Union Point Park.
Ms. Njuguna responded in the affirmative.
Commissioner Randolph then asked about the City’s timeline for the restoration of the Park to enable the same level of public access as was available before the encampments.
Ms. Njuguna stated that the Park needs to be restored by April 1, 2022 and noted that in the interim, on September 1, 2021, the City needs to provide BCDC with a park restoration plan so that BCDC can determine how the City will meet the deadline.
Chair Wasserman stated that the item has been concluded.
Closed Session on Pending Litigation. Chair Wasserman stated that because of the productive result a closed session was not needed.
Adjournment. Upon motion by Vice Chair Chappell, seconded by Commissioner Peskin, the Commission meeting was adjourned at 4:13 p.m. in memory of Vice Chair Anne Halsted.